Debt-fuelled over-consumption is a model broken beyond repair, both economically and environmentally. But which potential chancellor is closest to understanding this, and has the vision to deliver an alternative?
Is it Alistair Darling, who gave the minimum nod necessary on curtailing banking excesses to appease public anger, and seems bent on returning to business as usual? Is it George Osborne, sliding effortlessly into the old Conservative comfort zone of quick, punishing public spending cuts? How quickly people forget that the cuts agenda is driven by a massive private sector, market failure. Or, is it Vince Cable who, of the three, first called the banks’ failure and is most outspoken on reform?
All different, but for all, the future is a just question of when, not if, to make huge spending cuts. None fully sees the big win-win opportunity for major, productive, counter-cyclical public investment in a Green New Deal. It’s the one vision that could create jobs, and build a national housing, energy, food and transport infrastructure fit to flourish in a world of energy shortages and climate change.
So, my vote for next Chancellor goes to Adair Turner, former head of the Confederation of British Industry, chair of the official Climate Change Committee, and now leading the Financial Services Authoriry. He knows the market is often invisibly underwritten by the public realm, sees through the City’s attempts to defend the indefensible and understands the need and benefits of the great economic transition we have to make. He could be the first independent Chancellor, taking office in a hung parliament, symbolising a new politics.